Happy birthday to you. August 25th, 2022 is the National Parks Service’s birthday (106th!) and it’s a great time to hit the road and explore the wonder that our country’s nature has to offer. For those of us in Upstate New York, the closest National Parks are Cuyahoga Valley National Park (6 ½ hours from Alpin Haus headquarters) and Shenandoah National Park (7 hours from HQ), but if that’s too long a haul, fear not!
A quick visit to the National Park Service website will give you a list of not only all the National Parks in the country, but also all the National Monuments, trails, and sites as well, some of which are just a day trip away. So, this week we’re taking a look at 3 National attractions in our own backyard, along with RV friendly camp options that are in close proximity. Check it out, pack it up, and go enjoy the outdoors! It’s all out there, and it’s been waiting for you!
Saratoga National Historic Park
Open 9am – 5pm, Monday – Sunday
This 3,392 acre park were the grounds of the decisive battle that ultimately won the Americans the Revolutionary War back in 1777. The site holds a number of attractions and activities for history buffs and nature lovers alike. Start your journey back in time at the Visitor Center where you can take in a majestic view of the historic fields as well as artifacts, an interactive map, and a video about the Revolutionary War and the importance of this site. Did you have an ancestor that fought in the Battle of Saratoga? Take some time to search the Visitor Center’s database and explore your link to American history. Here you’ll have miles of trails through the battlefield and Victory Woods (the site of British General John Burgoyne’s encampment before his surrender) to hike, you can take a tour of General Phillip Schuyler’s home, and visit Saratoga Monument, a 155 foot granite structure that commemorates the spot of the British army’s surrender.
While camping is not permitted directly on this Historic Site, HipCamp has this list of nearby places to bed-down for the night that are RV friendly and close to the attraction.
Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River
If you’re looking to relax in an idyllic, picturesque setting, the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River is the spot for you. This whopping 55,575-acre park serves as a border between New York and Pennsylvania, snaking through 5 counties and 15 towns and townships. The Upper Delaware provides an abundance of camping, fishing, and historical/cultural sites to explore. Wildlife spotters will stay busy along the river valley, with bald eagles, mink, beaver and black bear calling the site home, and avid anglers will enjoy the opportunity to fish for the rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, walleye, white suckers, and American eels that swim the river. Aside from plentiful wildlife, the valley is also home to the remnants of the once bustling Delaware and Hudson Canal and the oldest suspension bridge in the United States, Roebling’s Delaware Aqueduct, which opened it’s 535 foot span back in 1849!
The Delaware State Forest offers 29 sites for RV camping that are furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and sign board. A free permit is required for all motorized camping and can be obtained by emailing the Delaware State Forest District Office on their website (where you can also find some helpful campsite maps and further details). For those of you up for more of an adventure, the State Forest has a single established campsite situated along the Delaware River that is only reachable by boat. This site has no amenities to speak of (running water, electricity, toilets), and you must carry out what you carry in.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
If you live anywhere along the eastern seaboard, chances are that you aren’t too far from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. At 2,180 + miles that stretch from Georgia to Maine, the A.T. is the longest hiking trail on Earth! The trail, which passes through 14 states, is used by hikers of all flavors, from day-trippers and weekend warriors, all the way to the most committed trekkers, the “thru-hikers” who set out to accomplish the amazing feat of walk the entire trail, from one end to the other, in one season. Fun Fact; the trail is a labor of love. Opening in 1937, the A.T. was developed entirely by volunteers and is still supported by the over 4,000 who donate more than 185,000 hours of labor annually to keep the trail open and beautiful.
Hikers can choose to stay in shelters or tents in any of the hundreds of sites along the trail, bunk in one of the small towns that the t runs through, or visit one of the too-numerous to name RV parks that are in close proximity to the path. Given the wide range of land and climate that it covers, it’s important to consider the weather for any particular stretch that you’re planning to explore ahead of time, and checking trail conditions on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.
What better way to celebrate The National Park Service’s Birthday than to head out and explore the wonder of this country’s great outdoors? Check out the National Park Service website for more history on the big day, along with resources to help find your closest park or site, virtual tours, and more. Before setting out, make sure to check on the park’s operating status and any restrictions that may be currently in effect. Be safe and have fun out there!